The Purpose of Revelation of the Scriptures
Every believer believes, that all these scriptures have been revealed by Almighty God for the guidance of human beings. All of them called towards monotheism and avoidance of idolatry. Thus Allah has ordained:
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولاً أَنْ اُعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ (36) (النحل: 36)
(Translation of meaning) [“Verily, We have deputed to every community a messenger [to tell them] that they worship Allah and keep away from Taghut [the false gods”] (An-Nahl: 36)].
Allah the Almighty had revealed these scriptures for the guidance of the mankind. They laid down the straight path of Allah following which the people could deserve the pleasure and reward of Allah and by avoiding the things prohibited therein, they could avoid the displeasure and wrath of Allah. But these Books could not remain intact in their original form for long. The people made alterations and amendments into them, so, their original was distorted. The holy Quran has dealt with various forms of such alterations and distortions.
One of such forms of alteration is the concealment of the verses. Allah has declared:
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ كَثِيراً مِمَّا كُنْتُمْ تُخْفُونَ مِنْ الْكِتَابِ وَيَعْفُو عَنْ كَثِيرٍ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ مِنْ اللَّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُبِينٌ (15) (المائدة: 15)
(Translation of meaning) [“O people of the Book verily has Our Messenger come to you illuminating to you most of what you had been concealing of the Book and he overlooks most of the others. Verily, has come to you light from God and a revealing Book” (Al-Maedah: 15)].
The second form of distortion was the misinterpretation of the verses. Allah has enlightened us in this way:
وَإِنَّ مِنْهُمْ لَفَرِيقاً يَلْوُونَ أَلْسِنَتَهُمْ بِالْكِتَابِ لِتَحْسَبُوهُ مِنْ الْكِتَابِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنْ الْكِتَابِ وَيَقُولُونَ هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (78) (آل عمران: 78)
(Translation of meaning) [“And there are a party which misrepresent the Book by the twist of their tongues so that you are led to believe that it is of the Book but it is not of the Book. They claim that whatever they are reciting is from God but it is not from God. They are but imputing falsehood to God and they know it” (Al Imran: 78)].
The third form of distortion was transference of the verses. Allah the Almighty ordains:
مِنْ الَّذِينَ هَادُوا يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَنْ مَوَاضِعِهِ وَيَقُولُونَ سَمِعْنَا وَعَصَيْنَا وَاسْمَعْ غَيْرَ مُسْمَعٍ وَرَاعِنَا لَيّاً بِأَلْسِنَتِهِمْ وَطَعْناً فِي الدِّينِ وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا وَاسْمَعْ وَانظُرْنَا لَكَانَ خَيْراً لَهُمْ وَأَقْوَمَ (46) (النساء: 46)
(Translation of meaning) [“Of those who became Jews are some who transfer the words of God from their right places. And they say: We have heard and we have defied; and hear the unhearable and gaze at us [in an arrogant way], twisting their tongues and denigrating the religion. Had they said [in the normal way]: We heard and we obeyed, and hear and look at us, it would have been better for them and right” (An-Nisa: 46)].
The fourth form of distortion was that what was not included in the Books was claimed to be part of them and then added to them. Thus Allah has declared:
وَمِنْهُمْ أُمِّيُّونَ لا يَعْلَمُونَ الْكِتَابَ إِلاَّ أَمَانِيَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلاَّ يَظُنُّونَ (78) فَوَيْلٌ لِلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَذَا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَناً قَلِيلاً فَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ (79) (البقرة: 78-79)
(Translation of meaning) [“And amongst them are illiterates who know nothing of the Book except its literal words and they are but speculating. So woe be to those who write the Book by their own hands and then say this is from the side of Allah so that they could earn in its lieu a petty price. So woe be to what is written by their hands and woe be to them for what they earn” (Al-Baqarah: 78-79)].
Thus the original Torah which the Muslims are enjoined to believe in and which is declared to be a source of guidance إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَا التَّوْرَاةَ فِيهَا هُدًى وَنُورٌ (44) (المائدة-44)
(Translation of meaning) Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light [Al-Maedah:44] no longer exists in its original form because it has been altered and amended. The Torah which exists today is found in different versions in different languages compiled by different hands. The greatest proof of such distortion is that the Torah which is followed by the Jews is different from the Torah which is followed by the Christians. The holy Quran mentions this distortion and holds the Jews responsible for it. Thus Allah has declared:
أَفَتَطْمَعُونَ أَنْ يُؤْمِنُوا لَكُمْ وَقَدْ كَانَ فَرِيقٌ مِنْهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ كَلامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يُحَرِّفُونَهُ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا عَقَلُوهُ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (75) (البقرة: 75)
(Translation of meaning) [“Do you wish them [the Jews] to believe in your mission whereas a party of them listened to the word of God then changed it after understanding it and they know it [well]” (Al-Baqarah: 75)].
It were the Jews who distorted the Book of Allah and dared to conceal the truth. They also tried to hide the prophecies about the coming of the last Messenger of Allah, Hadrat Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) though they knew very well about him. The holy Quran mentions this trickery of theirs in these words:
الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمْ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقاً مِنْهُمْ لَيَكْتُمُونَ الْحَقَّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (146) (البقرة: 146)
(Translation of meaning) [“Those whom We gave the Book do recognize it [the Qiblah] as they recognize their own sons. And verily a party of them conceal the truth knowingly. In spite of this they could not believe in the last Prophet because of their arrogance and jealousy.” (Al-Baqarah: 146)].
In addition, there are a number of things in the Torah which the common sense cannot acknowledge to be the word of Allah. For instance, وقال الرب الإله: هو ذا الإنسان قد صار كواحد منا عارفاً “the Lord Creator said look at man who has become one like us recognizing the right and wrong.” Similarly, فحزن الرب أنه عمل الإنسان في الأرض وتأسف في قلبه “The Lord became sad for creating man and became sorrowful at heart.” It is beyond reason that Allah became sad and sorrowful. If we believe in this then we must have to believe that Allah did not possess the prior knowledge of such things. As a matter of fact, the divine entity is immune from any defect or disability. Likewise, certain things have been attributed to the Prophets which if admitted to be true would exclude them from the status of prophethood. For instance, about Hadrat Abraham it is alleged that he told lies and about Hadrat Haroon it is alleged that he exhorted his people to worship the calf. Similarly, Hadrat Sulaiman Soloman (Alaihis Salam) is reported as having worshipped the idols just to please his wife. No rational human being would like to impute such matters to these sacred personalities leave alone to believe in Allah Almighty revealing such things to them.
The Bible is also not free from distortions. The existing Holy Book of the Christians is not the same as it was originally revealed to Hadrat Isa. Subsequently, the Christians included so many changes in it to subserve their own material interests. The existing version is a distorted one and a mixture of good and bad. For the sake of argument suffice it to say that the four Bibles currently in vogue have been selected out of so many versions of the Bible and only these four versions have been held as reliable. Only they have been ascribed to Hadrat Isa and the rest have been discarded. Recently, a Frenchman in Paris has discovered a fifth version which is known as Barnabas Bible. It is entirely different from the existing four versions and in its fundamental tenets and treatments somewhat resembles the Holy Quran. One of its own attributes that the Holy Quran mentions is that it confirms all the previous revealed books. Now a question may be raised that if the Quran itself confirms the existing divine scriptures then why should we hold them to be incorrect? As a matter of fact, attestation of the scriptures by the Quran does not mean that it attests all the contents of the existing versions. It simply affirms that the titles carried by the existing books belong to the original books as they were revealed to different prophets. It affirms in the second place, that the original books had preached monotheism and rejected polytheism, enjoined the belief in the Day of Reckoning and Compensation, affirmed the belief in the vicegerency of the prophets, prescribed laws for the guidance of the mankind, and promulgated the principle of exhortation to good and prevention from the reprehensible. Even now such teachings abound in the existing scriptures though in a diluted or distorted form. Along with testifying to the truth of these books the Quran also acts as a scrutiniser of the alterations and distortions made into them. Thus Allah says in the Quran:
قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَسْتُمْ عَلَى شَيْءٍ حَتَّى تُقِيمُوا التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ (68) (المائدة: 68)
(Translation of meaning) [“Tell them. O People of the Book you have no ground unless you promulgate the Torah, the Injil and whatever has been revealed to you from your Creator” (Al-Maedah: 68)].